Times, they are a-changin'.
The COVID-19 pandemic flipped many industries on their heads, and the film sector was not immune. The SoCreate Outreach Team keeps a pulse on film and TV industry trends, and with so much to catch up on in 2020 news, we decided to bring the rest of the team along for the ride with our latest Lunch Meet. The team-led learning series is now virtual, but the discussion was no less spirited. From the current state of production to movie theaters, streaming, and staff TV show recommendations, we covered it all!
So, how's the film industry faring in our newfound reality? Well, there's good news, there's bad news, and there are a TON of unknowns. Media Production Specialist Sam Solis Ramirez kicked things off with the good news.
The good news is that production crews on your favorite TV shows and most anticipated films did go back to work in the later part of 2020 after all production was halted to slow the spread of the virus back in March. They followed a new safety protocol to keep the disease transmission at bay. The bad news? Studios shut down production again in many entertainment hubs at the start of 2021. At the heart of it all, Hollywood saw virus hospitalizations skyrocket, and the major unions decided it was no longer worth the risk to send their members into harm's way. As of this writing, there is no anticipated "re-opening" date.
And, at least in California, the same goes for movie theaters. With most of the state back on stay-at-home orders, theaters must get creative to keep revenue flowing. Some are closed altogether, others are offering private showings for a flat fee, while few are opting to show new releases even if the audience size, and the theatrical window, is small. Very small. Take "Wonder Woman 1984," for example, written by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham. What usually would be a film destined for the box office, Warner Brothers decided to release simultaneously at theaters and on HBO Max. It was an excellent move for the streamer, who scored the most new subscriptions for its platform compared to any other direct-to-streaming film release last year, but the movie is still going to be a box office bomb for the studio. It cost $200 million to make, and so far, has grossed only $131 million. Still, Warner Brothers announced recently it would release its entire 2021 film slate to HBO Max, which will likely prove a significant blow to small theaters around the globe this year.
In better news, the streaming wars are rife with opportunity for screenwriters with a story to tell. Every streaming platform is scrambling for new, fresh, viral content to drive subscriptions, and there's not enough to go around in the current climate. Demand is high, and supply is low! SoCreate will make it so much easier and more fun to get started in screenwriting, so I'm sure we'll help fill those quotas in no time once we launch our software! (Not on the private beta list? Be one of the first to try SoCreate by signing up here.)
Meanwhile, viewers are running out of things to watch! I'm sure you've seen the meme that says, "I've finished Netflix." With so many people staying home, the demand for new shows and movies has probably never been higher in history than it is right now. That is crazy to think about! It's a thought that thrills me, actually, as we near SoCreate's launch. Just imagine the fresh voices and unique stories that will come out of SoCreate, a storytelling tool that literally anyone can use. Naturally, our team members are among the crowd looking for fresh content to binge, so we shared our suggestions at the end of the Lunch Meet. Show recommendations included HBO's "Succession," Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit,” "Bridgerton," and the Chinese drama series "Rise of the Phoenixes," and Disney+ "Mandalorian." What are you watching? We would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.
Other good things coming out of the 2020 film industry: The push for diverse talent and crews and the progress made on those efforts while Hollywood took a production pause, plus the increased need for creators – whether that be videographers and their stock footage, special effects designers who can fill the void of shooting on-location, or talented storytellers who can help us momentarily escape what is a difficult current reality for many. I know I've been saying it for years, but the world needs creators and storytellers now more than ever, and that has never been as true as while I'm writing it now.
So, let's get to work!